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Isaac Asimov's 7 Rules To Become a Prolific Writer

by Adesh Acharya 7 months ago in career
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Isaac Asimov in his book Essays On The Past, Present & Future, has written an essay about Writing. In it he shares some rules.


  1. You can’t start from scratch: Without previous experiences, you cannot just one day say I want to be a prolific writer, and then sit down to write with that in mind. You need to have an innate ability or talent to write. This requires education from which you acquire vocabulary and mechanics of language like spelling and grammar. After that, you need to have intelligence, imagination and a sense of application and perseverance. All this is needed because you will have to read works of good writers, observe their techniques, and survive the difficult period in which you gradually learn to do it yourself. Nobody can teach you. They may direct you or correct you, but eventually, you have to sense the subtleties yourself — Just like learning to ride a bicycle.
  2. You have to like to write: Most people like to become a writer but they may not like the writing process at all. Writing is a tedious and uncertain process. Even good, driven writers rarely enjoy it. If you do not enjoy the tedious mechanical process, then you will not be a prolific writer. Some people may hate the process yet express the desire to be prolific. They maybe even be willing to work towards loving the process. The problem then, is either psychological or is in the writing-process itself. If the issue is psychological, then self-help or psychotherapeutic stuff could help. If it is in the writing process, one may try to simplify it and find something general which will be of help to everyone.
  3. Be spare: There is no way of telling if a sentence written is the best way it could have been written. There are many alternatives and this may cause 3great uncertainty. While the best writings are the ones that are poetic and metaphoric, they require great skill and temperament. Being spare can be a great solution — Say what you want to say as directly as you can possibly manage. When things are simplified, fewer alternatives are possible and you can be reasonably confident that you have written the way you wanted to write. This makes you self-assured. Once that feeling that you are writing junk leaves the pit of your stomach, most of the unpleasantness associated with writing is gone.
  4. Be a juggler: All writers are troubled by the horrible and fearsome monster called Writers Block. When it comes and you do nothing, you may get afraid that you will never be able to do anything again. This will only make things worse. The solution is to have multiple projects at hand. This way if you have a block in one, you can go to the next — which might be waiting with newer challenges that might stimulate you and keep you going. Juggle from one task to another and keep writer’s block away!
  5. Be businesslike: But we cannot juggle forever because writing is not a game and it has deadlines. It doesn’t always allow you to do things based on your feelings. At times you have to sit down and write even if you do not want to. So there is no point treating writing as something ‘artistic’ and waiting for the muse. Deciding what to write is a major challenge. Most people think ideas come from inspiration, but that is false. A prolific writer cannot afford to wait for ‘‘inspiration’’. It can’t be relied upon. One solution is to go for variety. It saves you from having to come up with the same class of ideas. Variety will also keep you fresh and make tasks easy. Another way of coming up with ideas is by paying attention to the world around. When even that doesn’t help you then you can turn to yourself and ‘think very hard.’
  6. Stay businesslike: Even though every once in a while, you might like to do other activities apart from writing, you have to eventually train yourself to be reluctant to take time away from your writing and to be anxious to return to it — if you want to become a prolific writer. You have got to learn how to make your writing easy for yourself. You have to develop your own methods of coming up with ideas. This will lead to successful results in terms of self-satisfaction, sales, and earnings. You cannot indulge in drugs, alcohol and still be a prolific writer. You have to leave your mind unfuzzed. You have to treat your writing like an almost priestlike calling and nothing should be able to lure you out of it.
  7. Make efficient use of time: Everything depends on the attitude towards time. The hour that has vanished will never return. There are a variety of ways of utilizing time to the fullest. Every writer has his/her own way. At the end of it all, You will have to be a single-minded, driven and non-stop person.

Asimov ends this by providing his FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE:

Don’t be prolific. Just concentrate on being a good writer and leave prolificity to those poor souls who can’t help it-like me.


About the author

Adesh Acharya

Thinker, Writer, Experiencer of Mind, Life, World.

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Twitter: @AdeshFr,


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